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Chuck Grassley Calls for More Immigration Hearings, Then Uses Them to Troll Immigrants

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Flip back the count.  It’s been zero days since Congressional Republicans last called a CIS witness to a hearing.

All over Washington, Republicans are deciding that getting with the program on immigration reform and shutting up about their nativist tendencies is the best way to go.  The RNC released a whole report that talks about how they support immigration reform.  Rand Paul has come out in favor of immigration legislation that creates a path to citizenship.  Even dyed-in-the-wool, NumbersUSA-grade Republicans are making friendly sounds toward immigration reform—while others have decided that they’re better off not saying anything at all.

Enter Chuck Grassley.

One day after the senior senator from Iowa signed a letter to Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asking for more time to consider immigration reform and asking for the Committee to hold more hearings, Grassley made it clear that he views immigration hearings as a joke and wants to use them to troll immigrants and their supporters.

At the Senate hearing on immigrants and their right to due process yesterday, Grassley opened by going on about the rule of law (in a hearing convened to discuss how immigrants are not provided equal rights under the law) and complained about the recent ICE release of immigrant detainees (most of whom, of course, should not have been in detention in the first place—and some of whom were released thanks to a judge’s order, which, as this hearing pointed out, too many immigrants never get the chance to get).  Trolling already.

Then it turned out that both of the Republican witnesses that Grassley had invited were actually affiliated with Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant “think tank” that Congressional Republicans had, for a while, the good sense not to call upon.  But now that clock is set back to zero.

The first of these CIS witnesses, Michael Cutler, is a former INS agent—given that INS hasn’t even existed for a decade, this should tell you how relevant his experience is—who wasted no time talking about 9/11 and terrorists, and claiming that DACA was an open invitation for immigrants to come into the country.  Cutler’s statement was generically anti-immigrant, and had no real connection to a hearing that was—you know—supposed to be about due process.  But given Cutler’s history, we suppose it’s lucky that he didn’t say anything much worse.  In 2011, Cutler contributed to the December issue of the white nationalist Social Contract Journal, a project of anti-immigrant godfather John Tanton.  Cutler is also an advisor to a Tanton spin-off group, 9/11 Families for a Secure America, and serves as a Senior Writing Fellow for yet another Tanton group, the Californians for Population Stabilization.  CAPS exists to demonize immigrants on the pretext that they’ll ruin the environment and drain the economy—an agenda even Glenn Beck thought was too extreme (he called it “spooky”).

Then there was the other Republican witness, Professor Jan C. Ting, who currently serves on the board of CIS.  Ting claimed that immigrants shouldn’t have a right to counsel because the US does not guarantee counsel in divorce cases (what?), and argued that alleviating immigrants’ suffering at all (again, in this case, because they’re given few rights under the current justice system) would lead more people to come into the country without papers.  Ting flat-out lied when he said that “in general, immigrants can’t be deported without going before a judge” and that “judges have discretion” over who to deport—two wrongful claims that an actual judge (the Honorable Paul Grussendorf) disagreed with.  But at least Ting was on topic—most of the time. (He did spend much of his statement claiming that “the real question is how many immigrants we want in this country”—an anti-immigrant chestnut that’s relevant only as a reminder that the CIS crowd doesn’t just want to cut down on undocumented immigration, but legal immigration as well.)

Someone get Chuck Grassley a copy of this week’s RNC report, stat.  While other Republicans in the Party are coming to their senses on immigration and actually saying rational, reasonable things, Grassley is still too busy demonizing immigrants and their struggle to become full-fledged Americans.  If the RNC is serious about its outreach plan, it should take those new minority-outreach hires it’s planning on and sit Grassley (and Sessions, and Vitter, among others) down for an intervention.